Early Gas Centrifuge Effort
The Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) at Mumbai created India’s first gascentrifuge facility. By 1986, this facility reportedly contained about 100 centrifugesoperating in a cascade and enriched uranium up to about two percent uranium 235.
Centrifuge research activities at BARC are believed to continue.In the early 1980s, India decided to build the larger facility near Mysore.
The DAE’soriginal goal was reported to have about 5,000 operating centrifuges at RMP, buttechnical problems prevented them from reaching this goal.
Construction of RMP, 1986
By 1986, the DAE began construction of the RMP at a remote site approximately 19kilometers outside of Mysore.
Figure 1 is a commercial satellite image of the RMP fromApril 25, 2005.
By mid-1987, the DAE sought contractors to install electrical wiring, street lighting andlightning protection. The DAE has not revealed RMP’s official commission date, but it is believed to be about 1990.Since 1984, India has procured for RMP through the DAE “front company” Indian RareEarths (IRE) Ltd. IRE does not have the technical expertise to build or operate a gascentrifuge plant and is publicly responsible for mining and refining rare earths. In reality,BARC oversaw the personnel and operations of RMP. While IRE mentioned RMP in its public procurement advertisements from 1984 to 1985, it began omitting the phrase“RMP” from these advertisements after 1985. Except for an apparent mistake in 2004,IRE’s public advertisements to buy equipment did not make further reference to RMP or Mysore.India depended extensively on foreign procurement of equipment and materials for theRMP. BARC personnel frequently traveled to Europe to arrange and oversee procurement of key items for RMP from suppliers. Senior BARC official, Shri
Ivan Fera and Kannan Srinivasan, “Keeping the Nuclear Option Open, What it Really Means,” Economicand Political Weekly, vol. 21, no. 49, December 6, 1986.
“Keeping the Nuclear Option Open,” op. cit.
“Keeping the Nuclear Option Open,” op. cit. This source states that the RMP will be scaled up fifty timesfrom the pilot plant at BARC.
At this time, RMP’s procurement company placed orders for outdoor piping for utilities and service linesat the site.
A 1988 advertisement from Indian Rare Earths invited a contractor to build a facility at RMP, calledBuilding Number 10. The advertisement specified that the construction would take place 19 kilometersfrom Mysore on Hunsur Road. An IRE advertisement dated September 2000 mentioned RMP explicitlyand specified the construction of a new pulsed power secure fence with a total length of 2,500 meters. Thecircumference of the outer fence of the facility in the image is about 2,500 meters and the facility in theimage is 19 kilometers west of Mysore on Hunsur Road.